2015 YEAR IN REVIEW
The single greatest accomplishment of the BTA thus far to stimulate infrastructure investment was the role it played in landing the America’s Cup.
The Investment division’s mandate is to develop an investment environment for domestic and international investors and operators in Bermuda. In 2015, the division’s outreach to the investors and operators therefore remained a core activity and focus.
Over the course of the year, the Investment division worked consistently with the Bermuda Government on a number of important initiatives to encourage and facilitate investment in Bermuda tourism. One of these efforts is seen in the division’s provision of support to the Ministry of Public Works regarding the development of a National Tourism Infrastructure plan, a draft of which was provided to the BTA Board of Directors for review and consideration mid-year. In addition, the team provided support to the Ministry of Home Affairs on various tourism- and immigration- related matters, which came about as a consequence of the changes to the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 2015. The division was also integral in its support of the Ministry of Finance in its financial discussions with Morgan’s Point Limited and St George’s Hotel Development.
Most importantly, the investment division met with the General Managers of all the major hotels representing some 80 percent of the on-island hotel room inventory in an effort to understand the investment and operational challenges that face the local sector. The meetings have been instructive to delivering a fuller investment profile of Bermuda to potential investors and in directing attention to key regulatory and legislative changes necessary to improve the investment climate.
As part of the Investment division’s core activities, team members attended key investment and development conferences to raise awareness of impending changes to Bermuda’s investment environment, and held meetings with interested international investors both on- and off-island. This includes the continued engagement with the St. George’s development investment group throughout the year.
Moving forward from foundations laid in 2014, the Investment division focused on a number of key initiatives in 2015, some of which were brought to fruition by the end of the year.
Investment Incentives Act
One of these initiatives was the introduction of the new Investment Incentives Act. This Act will introduce revised legislation to attract direct foreign investment in Bermuda. Following due process, the Act was prepared and presented to Government in the first half of the year, and reviewed and approved by Cabinet in the second half. The drafting instructions are on track to be drafted by March 2016 with a final bill scheduled to be presented to the House of Parliament in June 2016.
Tourism Investment Concierge Service
At the start of 2015 an initial draft of the Tourism Investment Concierge Service mandate was drawn up for discussion with the Ministry of Tourism Development and Transport. By the end of the second quarter, the proposed Concierge Service memorandum of understanding (MOU) with key Government departments was agreed and signed. The MOUs are designed to facilitate an expedited application processing experience for investors through Government departments. The intent is to have applications and submissions reviewed and approved within the shortest possible time so as to demonstrate Government’s commitment to providing a red carpet experience to foreign direct investment in the hospitality sector.
Horseshoe Bay Redevelopment Proposal
Following meetings with the Ministry of Public Works at the beginning of the year, formal approval by the Development Approvals Board regarding the Horseshoe Bay redevelopment proposal was received and infrastructure development plans were commissioned. In October 2015, the Horseshoe Bay transportation hub redevelopment cabinet paper was presented to the Ministry of Public Works for review, and the approval of development costs are be added to 2016/17 Ministry of Public Works capital budget. An RFP for the new concessionaire at Horseshoe Bay was published on 11 December 2015 with a submission deadline of 22 January 2016. The BTA will be participating in the review of the submitted RFPs.
St. George’s Hotel Development
The Bermuda Government committed to supporting the development of a hotel in the historic town of St. George’s through the passage of the following legislative documents:
- The St. George’s Hotel Private Act was passed in the House of Parliament during the second quarter of 2015.
- The St. George’s Master Development Agreement and Ground Leases passed in the House of Parliament in the fourth quarter of 2015.
The Private Act outlines the permissions and concessions Government has provided to the developers, while the Master Development Agreement outlines the scope of the project, its designs and features. The Ground Leases confers the land to the developers for a period of 262 years on a leasehold basis for a nominal fee.
The ACEA says the BTA was “a significant contributing factor” to Bermuda’s successful bid to host the Cup, and the Board is thrilled with the flurry of infrastructure activity we have seen since: St. George’s Act, Morgan’s Point plans approved, Pink Beach reconstruction underway and the Horseshoe Bay transport hub just to name a few. Our investment division worked with all of those projects to resuscitate investor activity that had gone totally quiet pre-April 2014.BTA BOARD OF DIRECTORS IN THE “TOURISM FORWARD” SEPTEMBER 2015 ISSUE